LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The rising concern over gang activity in Lufkin and Angelina County has prompted one school officer to take a stand and make sure students are not influenced by the area gangs.
Middle school officer Ralph Bean first introduced the area to the Gang Education, Resistance, and Training, or the G.R.E.A.T. program, in 1998 after he went to a training program in Celina, Kansas.
The G.R.E.A.T. program is spread across 13 weeks and highlights areas of concerns when dealing with gangs. The program is taught to sixth graders, and at the end of the program, the students will participate in a service project.
Bean said the problem with gangs outside of the schools has made its way to the inside of the school walls.
"We have problems with the bandanas that are in different colors," Bean said. "We've seen kids writing things on the bathroom walls. They know they can go in the bathroom and no one could see them. Teachers have come to us and said, 'Hey what is this?' or 'What is going on?'"
Five years ago, the program stopped due to resource issues and that's when Bean said he started seeing issues with gang activity.
"When we taught the program, we could see a difference, because the kids know that we were there with them every day in the classroom telling them what not to do, but if you don't have any prevention then this is what happens," Bean said.
This is only the second week of the rejuvenated program, and the students are already grasping the concept.
"It is a bad thing to get involved in gangs because you can get killed or someone from your family can get hurt," said student Leslye Delagarza.
Bean hopes to get one major message across by the end of the 13-week program.
"People say this is okay and that is okay, but it's not," Bean said. "Being part of gangs; there is nothing positive about it."
It's a message Bean thinks could clean up the streets of Lufkin.